Employers More Confident of Continuing Health Care Coverage in 2014, Survey Finds

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By Sean Forbes

More than two-thirds of employers with a health care plan indicated in a March survey that they will continue to offer coverage for all full-time employees in 2014, a big jump from last year, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans said May 16.

The percentage of single employers that currently have plans that said they “definitely will” continue to offer coverage next year--when the health care exchanges and the employer shared-responsibility requirements under the Affordable Care Act go into effect--jumped more than 20 points, from 46.2 percent in 2012 to 68.5 percent this year, according to the results of the IFEBP survey.

An additional 25 percent of employers said they are “very likely” to continue offering coverage, IFEBP said in the survey report, 2013 Employer-Sponsored Health Care: ACA's Impact. The share of employers that said they were “somewhat likely,” “somewhat unlikely,” or “very unlikely” to continue coverage or “definitely won't” continue coverage also dropped, but “it seems from the data that more respondents are making up their mind to continue coverage,” Brenda Hofmann, senior communications associate at IFEBP, told BNA May 16. “More respondents moved from the other choices to 'definitely will' continue coverage,” she said.

“What's going on is that employers are now seriously talking to their benefits consultants, their human resources executives, and others about implementing” ACA's provisions, Timothy S. Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., told BNA May 17.

IFEBP also broke out the employers by size to track the likelihood of continuing coverage. The greatest size differentiation occurred among employers with 50 or fewer employees, with none saying they definitely would not continue coverage and 60.8 percent saying they definitely would do so. Only 3.1 percent said they were very unlikely to continue coverage, 5.2 percent somewhat likely, and 23.7 very likely.

The employers that said they would continue to offer coverage cited two main reasons for doing so: to retain current employees (70.3 percent) and to attract future talent (65 percent), according to the survey report. Another 37.9 percent said that maintaining and increasing employee satisfaction and loyalty was a driving reason to continue coverage.

IFEBP received 966 responses from human resources and benefits professionals, as well as industry experts, mostly representing employers that currently offer health benefits. The employers were drawn from the databases of IFEBP and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.

The IFEBP survey report is at http://www.ifebp.org/Resources/Research/empsponsoredhcimpact13.htm.

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